Google says that scammers are sending 18 million hoax emails about Covid-19 to Gmail users every day. The pandemic has led to an explosion of phishing attacks in which criminals try to trick users into revealing personal data, download software or donate to bogus causes.
Google said it was blocking more than 100 million phishing emails a day. Over the past week, almost a fifth were scam emails related to coronavirus. Cyber-criminals are also attempting to capitalise on government support packages by imitating public institutions.
Google claims that its machine-learning tools are able to block more than 99.9% of emails from reaching its users.The growth in coronavirus-themed phishing is being recorded by several cyber-security companies. Barracuda Networks said it had seen a 667% increase in malicious phishing emails during the pandemic.
Scammers have been sending fake emails and text messages claiming to be from the UK government, the WHO, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and even individual US officials, including President Trump.
“Phishing attacks always share the common trait of inciting or depending on an emotion that causes us to act more hastily or think less about our actions at that moment in time,” said independent security researcher Scott Helme.